Crisis in Venezuela and – President postpones annual address to parliament
CARACAS - Venezuela faces its worst economic crisis in a generation. The price of oil, which accounts for 95% of export earnings, has plunged; economists reckon annual food inflation exceeds 100%; queues outside empty shops are lengthening (and queuing before dawn has been banned).
There is speculation that Venezuela will default on its foreign debt. Today the president, Nicolás Maduro, was due to explain how he intends to fix things, but he has postponed his annual address to parliament until Wednesday.
A credible package would start with reform of the three-tier exchange-rate system, which would help the government pay its bills and stanch the outflow of capital. It would include higher petrol prices, the sale of state assets and spending cuts to help control debt. Phasing out price controls would ease shortages of food and medicines. But few expect Maduro, whose approval rating is a mere 22%, to muster the courage for such measures.